Every Chinese New Year over the past decade, there are three must-dos that involve me personally. And I don’t mean house-cleaning or supervising the f&b arrangements — and more recently the exchange of hongbaos — for my mum.
The first is to visit dad’s niche in Choa Chu Kang and that’s usually done on the second day of the new year, aftrer the kai nian fan at my sister’s.
I always wonder why columbaria must be sited so far away from the city, as if the intention is to test descendents’ filial piety after the older generations are gone.
If you truly remember the dead, you will make the journey regardless of the distance?
If that’s the thinking, my retort is: you are segregating the living and the dead. Why not encourage columbaria to be set up in shopping malls and MRT interchanges? That way, we can more easily maintain our acts of remembering blood links to those who came and left before us!
My 2nd “must do” is to drop in at the Kwan Im Hoo Cho Temple (above) at Waterloo Street. There’s no preferred day to go, other than not going on the day where half of Singapore — and more — might be there and that’s the first day of CNY. In any case, I seldom can get out of the flat on that day in recent times, because of the need to manage my mother’s visitors and their refreshment needs.
This year I went to Waterloo Street on the 5th day of the new year and even then, the crowds were no less intense!
The 3rd fixture is the Association of Banks in Singapore’s Chinese New Year luncheon which is always well attended, with people arriving at noon and staying till 2.30pm! Which says a lot about the support that ABS gets, considering that it’s always held on a week day and the attendees are mostly from senior management ranks.
Sure, the food is always good (yusheng, sharks fin, fresh scallops, perche, yeefoo noodles and a dessert of rich mango sago soup) but I think the chance to mingle and hob-nob with one’s peers in a non-business environment is the real reason!
Also, in more recent years, the occasion has become more and more unbuttoned, in the nicest sense, with a magic show at the latest lunch that went beyond the traditional bian-mian. The ABS director, OAB, even went up on stage to be touched by “magic”!